In a Hollywood Reporter profile, Stern reveals for the first time that when he took a rare day off on May 10, 2017 -- to the surprise of his fans -- it was to have surgery to remove a growth on his kidney. "And now all I'm thinking is, 'I'm going to die,'" he says. "And I'm scared sh*tless." It turns out, the growth was a tiny, harmless cyst. Stern, who turned 65 in January, has mellowed with age after soaring to fame with potty humor, and gross, profane and sexist bits on his radio show. These days, Stern -- who can be spotted on his wife Beth Stern's Instagram page brushing and playing with his cats -- has opened his homes to numerous cats and kittens that his wife fosters. That evolution has led him to land A-list stars like Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Ellen DeGeneres and Lady Gaga for lengthy, in-depth interviews that are the subject of his new book, Howard Stern Comes Again. "I'd feel really f*cking sh*tty if I hadn't evolved. I'd be completely out of step with the times," says Stern, who's become friends with former nemesis Rosie O'Donnell. Stern sent Kathie Lee Gifford, whom he used to mock relentlessly on his radio show, flowers when she recently signed off from the Today show. Stern also credits being on a mainstream reality show like America's Got Talent from 2012 to 2015 for the change in the way he's perceived. "I had a reputation as a stark-raving lunatic before that," says Stern. After his four seasons on the NBC talent competition, he says, "I went from America's nightmare to Santa Claus. Literally, people were putting their kids on my lap."